Mikel Arteta has claimed that there are no regrets from selling Emiliano Martinez while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has praised ‘great talent’ Folarin Balogun.
As quoted by Daily Mail, Mikel Arteta has insisted that he does not regret taking the decision to cash in on Emiliano Martinez in the summer transfer window. The Argentine goalkeeper was sold to Aston Villa after he expressed his desire to play regular football.
Emiliano Martinez joined Arsenal from Independiente in 2010 and completed his footballing education in the north London club’s youth setup. The 28-year-old broke into the Arsenal first-team setup in 2012, but was sent out on loan to a number of clubs before he became a fixture in the senior squad following the departure of Petr Cech.
Last season, Martinez got the chance to show his mettle in the second half of the season after Bernd Leno sustained a knee injury. The Argentine subsequently featured 23 times in all competitions, playing a key role as Arsenal won the FA Cup and lifted the Community Shield at the onset of the 2020/21 season.
However, after a strong end to the previous campaign, Martinez had become eager to play regular football, which he was not going to get at Arsenal, with Leno set to return from injury. So, a move away from the Emirates was the likeliest outcome which came to be with the transfer to Aston Villa.
With Martinez making a strong start to life at Aston Villa, Arteta was quizzed about the decision to sell him ahead of Arsenal’s clash with the 28-year-old’s new team. The Spaniard insisted that the Gunners did not regret parting ways with Martinez.
“No, when we sat down and we believed it was the right thing to do – he was still very willing to get the number one shirt and play regularly – I think we had to give him the choice to decide where he wanted to play.”
“He has earned a lot of respect in this country, he has been here for 10 years and with his performances for us in the last few months. He believed it was the right club for him so I was happy to let him go and make the right decision for his career.”
With Leno going great guns more often than not, the decision to sell Martinez is unlikely to come and haunt Arsenal either, and Arteta’s comments do make sense. Meanwhile, as quoted by Examiner Live, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has heaped praise on ‘great talent’ Folarin Balogun amid his uncertain future at Arsenal.
Folarin Balogun has been a part of Arsenal since he was a 10-year-old, back in 2011. Since then, he has made rapid progress to come to the fringes of the first-team in less than a decade’s time. A regular in the club’s Under-23 side, the 19-year-old made his first-team debut last month, as the Gunners beat Dundalk 3-0 in the UEFA Europa League.
Folarin Balogun made his Arsenal debut last Thursday. Straight away, he looked to stretch Dundalk's defence: always on the last man, at least 6 instances of him making the same run into depth with intensity and purpose. Arsenal have lacked these movements for a while. pic.twitter.com/CEjoIjFb1d
— Scouted Football (@ScoutedFtbl) October 31, 2020
The teenager’s future at Arsenal, though, has been up in the air for some time, with his current deal set to run out next summer. Consequently, there have been suggestions pointing towards Balogun leaving the club as a free agent when his contract expires.
There is no shortage of interest in him either, with Sheffield United keenly following his progress. Balogun, though, has been touted for a bright future at Arsenal, with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang now hailing him as a ‘great talent’.
“Flo Balogun was one of those who came on in the last game. He is very, very talented, for sure, and he shows every time he plays with us that he’s a really great talent. He works hard and is a humble guy as well. I love his style – he’s like an American rapper – he’s cool!”
The vote of confidence from Aubameyang should do Balogun a world of good. More importantly, though, it will be interesting to see if his contract situation changes anytime soon, although with Eddie Nketiah, Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang himself ahead of him in the pecking order, game time might come at a premium.